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    Firefighters, military personnel, chemical plant workers, and others exposed to Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) may be at risk of developing severe health problems including multiple types of cancers. The risk is linked to exposure to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals, also known as forever chemicals, as they do not break down. PFAS chemicals remain in human blood and the environment indefinitely.

    AFFF lawsuits aim to help victims of serious health conditions related to firefighting foam exposure recoup financial losses, and hold the manufacturers of these dangerous substances accountable for their actions.

    If you or a loved one was exposed to AFFF and subsequently developed cancer, you may be eligible to receive compensation. Contact the attorneys at the Joye Law Firm today for a no-obligation consultation, and find out if you qualify for a firefighting foam lawsuit.

    What is Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF)?

    Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFF) are Class B firefighting foams used to suppress flammable liquid fires, such as those involving fuels, oils, and other hydrocarbons. These foams have been used by fire departments, military operations, and many other industries since their invention by the Navy and 3M in 1966.  They were developed after a fire on the USS Forrestal killed 134 sailors. These foams are designed to create a thin, protective film on the surface of the flammable liquid, preventing the release of flammable vapors, thus suppressing the fire. AFFF contains a mixture of water, fluorochemical surfactants, and foam stabilizers. It is commonly used in various fire suppression systems and by firefighters to combat fires involving flammable liquids.

    AFFF is used in the U.S. military, and most civilian applications worldwide, as either a 3% or a 6% concentrate. The numbers refer to the percentage of the foam concentrate mixed with either fresh or seawater. AFFF is highly toxic, as it contains between 50% and 98% PFAS, a group of over 9,000 toxic chemicals. Both concentrations carry extreme risks for those exposed.

    While AFFF has been effective in fighting certain types of fires, it is important to be aware of potential health and environmental risks associated with its use.

    Environmental Risks:

    • Groundwater Contamination: AFFF contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are persistent and can leach into the ground, potentially contaminating groundwater. PFAS have been linked to various health and environmental problems.
    • Surface Water Contamination: AFFF runoff can enter surface water bodies, leading to the contamination of rivers, lakes, and other aquatic environments. This can harm aquatic life and ecosystems.
    • Bioaccumulation: PFAS compounds can accumulate in the food chain, potentially leading to increased exposure for animals and humans who consume contaminated fish or other organisms.

    Health Risks:

    • Exposure to PFAS: Prolonged exposure to PFAS through AFFF or contaminated water sources may lead to adverse health effects, including potential risks to the liver, immune system, and other health concerns.
    • Occupational Exposure: Firefighters and emergency responders who use AFFF are at risk of inhaling or coming into contact with PFAS, potentially leading to health issues. This has raised concerns about occupational health.
    • Long-Term Health Effects: The long-term health effects of exposure to AFFF-related PFAS are still an active area of research, but there is growing concern about potential associations with various health conditions including multiple types of cancers.

    It’s worth noting that there are ongoing research and regulatory efforts to address the environmental and health risks associated with AFFF and PFAS compounds. Some regulatory bodies have taken measures to restrict or phase out certain types of AFFF formulations to mitigate these risks.

    AFFF Contamination and Health Concerns

    Per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals used in the manufacturing of AFFF firefighting foams can enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, or contact with skin. These chemicals have been linked to serious health conditions such as certain types of cancers, thyroid disease, liver damage, immune system deficiencies, and more.

    According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR), some studies in humans suggest that certain PFAS may be associated with:

    • Fertility issues and pregnancy-induced hypertension/preeclampsia
    • Increased cholesterol
    • Changes in the immune system
    • Increased risk of certain cancers
    • Changes in fetal and child development
    • Liver damage
    • Increased risk of thyroid disease
    • Increased risk of asthma
    • Ulcerative colitis

    Cancers Associated with AFFF Exposure

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    Bladder Cancer
    Scientific studies have shown that exposure to PFAS found in the blood of people and animals may increase health risks, including bladder cancer. As the body absorbs carcinogens the chemicals are transferred to the blood, filtered by the kidneys, and expelled through urine. Greater concentrations of these chemicals can damage the endothelial lining of the bladder and increase a patient's likelihood of developing transitional cell carcinoma. Symptoms of bladder cancer include blood in the urine as well as irritation, increased urgency, and frequency of urination.
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    Breast Cancer
    Recent research, including a meta-analysis in the journal "Toxics," highlights the increased risk of breast cancer associated with certain PFAS chemicals. Notably, Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and Perfluoro-n-decanoic acid (PFDA) were identified as contributors. A study on female firefighters in San Francisco revealed a heightened susceptibility to PFAS effects compared to other professions. Additionally, male firefighters exposed to AFFF's perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances face a potential link to breast cancer. Recognizing symptoms such as lumps, skin changes, and nipple abnormalities is crucial.
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    Colorectal Cancer
    Colorectal cancer has been linked to PFAS exposure, with a specific focus on Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Researchers at West Virginia University observed an inverse relationship between PFOS exposure and colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnosis, and a modest association with PFOA. Other studies, such as those from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine and the University of New Hampshire, emphasize the role of PFAS in promoting colorectal cancer. Symptoms of colorectal cancer, which may not always be immediately evident, include changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, abdominal discomfort, and unexplained weight loss.
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    Kidney Cancer
    The kidney's role in filtering and eliminating substances heightens the risk of damage and cancer from those exposed to PFAS. A 20-year study published in Environmental Health Perspectives revealed that firefighters exposed to AFFF were 2.7 times more likely to develop kidney cancer than those without exposure. This risk is particularly elevated in industries like firefighting and areas near military bases or airports with heavy AFFF use, as highlighted by research sponsored by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the CDC, and the American Cancer Society. These organizations have classified AFFF firefighting foam as a human carcinogen due to its link to kidney cancer. Symptoms of kidney cancer, such as blood in the urine, back pain, weight loss, and fatigue, may emerge as the disease progresses.
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    Leukemia
    Firefighters with AFFF exposure face a nearly doubled risk of developing leukemia, attributed to the bioaccumulation of toxic PFAS chemicals in the blood. Leukemia, a type of cancer affecting white blood cells, exhibits a latency period of 5 years when associated with AFFF exposure. Leukemia impacts blood production tissues like bone marrow, the lymphatic system, the spleen, and the thymus gland. While the precise causes of leukemia remain unclear, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental risk factors. Recognizable signs include persistent fatigue, frequent infections, swollen lymph nodes, fever, easy bleeding, skin discolorations, recurrent nosebleeds, and unexplained weight loss.
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    Liver Cancer
    The liver, a primary reservoir for long-chain PFAS, plays a pivotal role in the heightened risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, the most prevalent form of liver cancer in individuals with elevated PFAS levels. Notably, PFOS are among over 9,000 PFAS chemicals that exhibit a strong correlation with liver cancer. Firefighters with PFOS in their blood face a fourfold increased risk of liver cancer compared to the general population. Research indicates that high PFOS levels lead to metabolic changes in the liver, disrupting fat metabolism and driving fat accumulation, thereby increasing the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Civilian and military firefighters exposed to AFFF have a 20% to 30% higher risk of liver cancer, which presents symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, abdominal swelling, yellowing of the skin, weight loss, weakness, and fatigue. AFFF-related liver cancer typically manifests approximately 12 years after initial PFAS exposure.
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    Mesothelioma
    In 2013, NIOSH researchers reported a doubled risk of malignant mesothelioma, an exceptionally rare cancer, among firefighters. This signifies a 100 percent increased risk of developing mesothelioma and a 129 percent increased risk of mortality from the disease. Mesothelioma targets the thin tissue layer covering internal organs, known as the mesothelium, and is a particularly aggressive and lethal cancer. While treatments exist, a cure remains elusive for many diagnosed individuals. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma, the most common type, include shortness of breath, chest or lower back pain, persistent cough, difficulties swallowing, or a sensation of something lodged in the throat.
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    Pancreatic Cancer
    Exposure to PFAS has been linked to the development of pancreatic acinar cell tumors in rodents, with a specific emphasis on the chemical PFOA within the PFAS group, which shows a strong connection to pancreatic cancer. Carcinogens like PFOA entering the bloodstream can lead to the formation of free radicals, causing oxidative stress and playing a significant role in cancer development, including pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, the prognosis for pancreatic cancer is bleak, with only 9% of patients surviving for five years or longer post-diagnosis. Civilian and military firefighters who used AFFF should be vigilant about their health, seeking medical attention if they experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin, new diabetes diagnosis, itchy skin, light-colored stools, dark-colored urine, blood clots, fatigue, or lack of energy. When AFFF exposure is the cause of pancreatic cancer, the disease typically manifests within 10 years.
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    Thyroid disease and thyroid cancer
    The detrimental impact of PFAS on thyroid function is well-documented, with studies showing disruptions in thyroid hormone synthesis and enzyme activity. Firefighters, regularly exposed to AFFF, face an increased risk of thyroid dysfunctions and cancer. In particular, female firefighters are 5 to 8 times more likely to develop thyroid issues due to their exposure to Aqueous Film Forming Foam. Symptoms such as neck lumps, voice changes, swallowing difficulties, and swollen neck lymph nodes should prompt immediate medical evaluation for potential thyroid disease or cancer.
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    Prostate Cancer
    Prostate cancer stands as the most prevalent malignant disease among firefighters, constituting 13.7% of all cancers within this occupational group. Notably, PFAS, particularly PFOA and PFOS present in firefighting foams, accumulate in the body, impacting tissues like the prostate and bladder. Early-stage prostate cancer often lacks noticeable symptoms, but advanced cases may manifest with signs such as blood in urine or seminal fluid, pelvic discomfort, bone pain, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and alterations in bowel habits. AFFF-induced prostate cancer typically develops around 15 years after initial PFAS exposure, with variations based on individual factors. A study in Kent County, Michigan, highlighted a significantly elevated rate of prostate cancer in residents exposed to PFAS compared to the general population.
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    Testicular Cancer
    Numerous studies have consistently shown elevated rates of testicular cancer among firefighters, both military and civilian, often attributed to the presence of PFAS in firefighting foam. However, the direct link between PFAS and testicular cancer among service members was recently established in a federal study. This study, utilizing banked blood from Air Force servicemen, revealed a direct association between PFOS, a PFAS chemical found in the blood of thousands of military personnel, and testicular cancer. Airmen who served as firefighters displayed heightened PFAS levels in their bloodstreams, with weaker evidence for those residing in areas with high PFAS levels in drinking water. Testicular cancer is often misdiagnosed but the following symptoms could be signs of its development: an abnormal testicle development, size difference between the testicles, testicular pain or discomfort, testicular swelling, and lower abdominal or back pain.

    AFFF Lawsuits Overview

    The legal landscape surrounding Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) lawsuits is evolving as individuals seek accountability for the adverse health effects resulting from exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the toxic components of AFFF. There are now 6,400 AFFF cancer lawsuits pending in the firefighting foam class action multidistrict litigation as of November 2023.

    Since 2018, the Judicial Panel in South Carolina has worked to resolve hundreds of AFFF lawsuits across the country where plaintiffs are alleging that AFFF contains toxic chemicals, such as perfluorooctane acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and that they these companies should have known and warned individuals of the health risks.

    Grounds for filing AFFF lawsuits typically revolve around three key factors: exposure, health issues, and negligence.

    Exposure to AFFF containing PFAS is a central element in AFFF lawsuits. Individuals who have been regularly exposed to AFFF, particularly firefighters, military personnel, and those living near military bases, allege that the chemicals have permeated their environments, leading to harmful health consequences. Despite documented health concerns dating back to the 1970s, the Department of Defense continued using AFFF for decades without adequate warnings to those handling the foam.

    Health issues resulting from AFFF exposure form another crucial aspect of lawsuits. The link between PFAS and various cancers, including kidney, liver, prostate, testicular, and pancreatic cancers, as well as other serious diseases like leukemia, has prompted individuals to seek legal recourse. AFFF-related health issues are not only a consequence of direct exposure but also arise from the environmental persistence and bioaccumulation of PFAS, affecting communities surrounding military bases where AFFF has been extensively used.

    Negligence plays a key role in AFFF lawsuits, as plaintiffs argue that manufacturers, distributors, and the Department of Defense failed to adequately warn individuals about the potential health risks associated with AFFF. Despite early studies highlighting the toxicity of PFAS, the military often presented AFFF as harmless with some service members claiming they were told it was only soap and water. By congressional order, the Department of Defense must stop using all PFAS-containing foams by October 2024, though it can keep buying them until this October. That’s decades after the military first documented the chemicals’ potential health concerns.

    Evidence required to bring about an AFFF lawsuit may include:

    • Medical records
    • Cancer diagnosis information
    • Employment records
    • History of AFFF exposure
    • Personal and witness testimony
    • Any other information validating exposure to firefighting foam

    If you or a loved one has suffered health issues, including cancer, due to exposure to Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), you may be entitled to compensation. Whether you’re a firefighter, military personnel, chemical plant worker, or a resident near military bases, AFFF lawsuits seek to help victims recover losses and hold manufacturers accountable for per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)-related health effects. Contact our experienced attorneys at (888) 324-3100 for a no-obligation consultation to assess your eligibility for a firefighting foam lawsuit. Your health and legal rights deserve dedicated attention.

     

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Why Choose Joye Law Firm for AFFF Lawsuits?

    Choosing Joye Law Firm for AFFF lawsuits ensures that you have a dedicated and experienced legal team advocating for your rights. Our attorneys are well-versed in personal injury law, including cases related to Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) exposure. With offices strategically located in North Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Summerville, and Clinton, Joye Law Firm has a strong presence in South Carolina, prioritizing client needs and delivering personalized attention.

    Joye Law Firm emphasizes a client-centric approach, offering compassionate support while tirelessly pursuing justice. Our legal team is adept at evaluating the unique aspects of each case, gathering crucial evidence, and navigating the intricate legal processes associated with AFFF lawsuits. Choosing Joye Law Firm means aligning with a legal partner dedicated to securing the compensation and justice you deserve for the health impacts resulting from AFFF exposure.

    Do I Qualify for an AFFF Lawsuit?

    Firefighters, particularly those stationed at military bases and airports, who have faced regular exposure to poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances and are currently grappling with diagnoses of kidney, pancreatic, testicular, or other cancers, have the right to seek monetary compensation for their injuries. To determine eligibility for an Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) lawsuit, individuals should seek legal counsel from professionals well-versed in AFFF lawsuits.

    An attorney can assist in gathering evidence, including documenting instances of exposure with details such as dates, locations, and circumstances. Compiling medical records that establish a connection between diagnosed health issues and PFAS, the toxic components of AFFF, is crucial. Experienced attorneys can assess a case’s merit and navigate clients through intricate legal procedures. Importantly, there is no family medical history exclusion for these claims, but minors are ineligible for compensation, as only firefighters who directly used AFFF can qualify at this time. Notably, there is no statute of limitations for AFFF exposure cases, except for wrongful death claims, where the statute will align with the state of the deceased person’s residence.

    What Compensation is Available to Firefighters Suffering from Diseases Caused by AFFF?

    Typical damages for AFFF foam lawsuits may include:

    • Medical expenses
    • Lost wages
    • Pain and suffering, emotional distress
    • Lost earning ability
    • Loss of enjoyment of life
    • Permanent disability
    • Future medical expenses and therapy costs
    • Other compensatory and punitive damages
    • Loss of consortium

    What Companies can be held liable for AFFF Lawsuits?

    Companies that supplied AFFF firefighting foam to fire departments, military bases, airports, and others are the defendants named in AFFF lawsuits.

    These companies include:

    • 3M
    • DuPont
    • Chemours
    • Tyco Fire Products
    • Chemguard Inc
    • ChemDesign Inc
    • Over a dozen other companies

     

    Contact Joye Law Firm

    If you or a loved one has been exposed to Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) and subsequently developed serious health problems, including various cancers, you may be entitled to compensation. Firefighters, military personnel, chemical plant workers, or residents near military bases deserve to have their day in court. AFFF lawsuits aim to help victims recover financial losses and hold manufacturers accountable for the adverse health effects linked to exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

    With a legacy dating back to 1968, Joye Law Firm has been steadfastly defending the rights of civilians and military personnel injured by negligent parties. Currently advocating for veterans affected by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, our experienced attorneys are ready to assist you.

    Contact the experienced attorneys at the Joye Law Firm today for a no-obligation consultation to determine if you qualify for a firefighting foam lawsuit. We can be reached online or by phone at (888) 324-3100 24/7. Your health and legal rights deserve the attention and advocacy of a dedicated legal team. Act now to seek the justice and compensation you deserve.

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